Berberis aquifolium var. repens (Creeping Barberry) - This slow-growing native evergreen shrub grows 1 to 3 feet tall and spreads slowly by underground runners to form wide drifts. The leaves are dark blue-green and in winter they have a reddish tinge. Yellow flowers appear in late spring through early summer and are followed by blue berries.
Grows in full coastal sun. part sun or part shade in a well-draining soil with very little water required but also tolerating occasional irrigation. Hardy to 0 to -10°F. Resistant to predation by deer. An excellent groundcover for dry shade under oaks or pines with yellow bee and butterfly attracting flowers and blue berries that are edible and attract birds and often with nice fall color.
Berberis aquifolium var. repens is native through much of California with a scattered distribution as far south as San Diego County, but is more common in northern California from the west side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains west to the coastal mountains. The name for the genus comes from the Latinized form of the Arabic name for the barberry fruit.
For many years this plant has been included in the genus Mahonia, a genus first described by the English botanist Thomas Nuttall, who lived and botanized in America much of the first half of the 19th century. The name honored Philadelphia horticulturist Bernard McMahon (1775-1816) who introduced the type plant, Mahonia aquifolium from materials collected by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, a collection which McMahon curated. In a weird nomenclatural twist Mahonia aquifolium, the species that was first used to create the genus name was determined to be more closely related to plants in the genus Berberis and renamed Berberis aquifolium, while plants from Asia that were later included in the genus Mahonia, have retained this name. Go figure!
The information about Berberis aquifolium var. repens displayed on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources we consider reliable. We will also relate those observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments we receive from others and welcome hearing from anyone who has additional information, particularly when they share cultural information that would aid others in growing it.